My Father’s Fire by Phillip McCollum is a 46-page short story published in June 2019. The story offers a fictional look at one of the reasons for a California wildfire known as the Camp Fire. The blaze destroyed a cabin belonging to the father of Joseph Bancroft. Dad had also died in the blaze. His remains had been cremated, and Joseph had learned of his father’s death through notifications by the police. Joseph felt guilty for missing the funeral and was now back at the cabin looking for any items remaining from the blaze.
Joseph was successful in finding a metal box that was heavy but was also welded shut. Joseph felt forced to contact his sister Sarah and her husband Ben, the only people he knew in the area. Perhaps they would be able to find someone to open the box. There might be clues about Joseph’s mother and other secrets about the family. Getting the box open might even help to reestablish relations with his sister. Their relationship had been cold for several years for reasons that Joseph seemed to be unaware of.
The box was opened by Ben and Sarah, but not in the presence of Joseph. After the long drive home, Joseph needed sleep and was staying in a nearby hotel where he was later joined by his girlfriend Samantha. Once Ben and Sarah saw the contents of the box, chaos broke out on several levels. Ben arrived at Joseph’s hotel and forced him at gunpoint to leave immediately for the cabin. Sarah and her children were already at the camp. So was someone else. Then another newcomer appeared. Finally, all the mysteries surrounding the fire at the cabin would be explained.
There is a surprise ending. I found the entire plot too contrived and improbable. I could not get involved in the story or the characters. There is potential for character development of Ben, Sarah, and Samantha that went unrealized. The main character and protagonist Joseph only reacts to things that happen in the story. Joseph doesn’t cause things to happen; he waits around and observes. The tale was an OK short story which I gave three Amazon stars. I will read more by this author. McCollum has two collections of short stories, twenty-six stories in each of two volumes. I will read at least one of them.
This short story is USD 2.99 as an Amazon sale item or is free on Kindle Unlimited.